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The Last Honey Hunter

  • 12 May 2020 9:40 PM
    Message # 8965166
    Jacob Dickinson (Administrator)

    This 36-minute National Geographic film is about a honey hunter in Nepal who hangs in space on a woven bamboo ladder, wrestling with huge hunks of Apis dorsata laboriosa honeycomb dripping hallucinogenic rhododendron honey, while the big Asian honey bees sting him all over his face and bare feet:

    Worried because you told the kids to "just say 'no' to drugs?" Relax. The film's one description of the honey's effects is not appealing at all! And apparently the price dropped after it was blamed for some deaths in Korea.

    Some of the good news is that this movie makes everything we do look about as exotic and hazardous as stamp collecting. Sitting with my laptop, there were scenes that made me want to push away from the screen, as if scraping my heels against some slippery overhang, digging in for footholds. If someone close to you is skeptical about your beekeeping, make some popcorn and watch this with them! Tell them you're thinking of going to Nepal for a cliff hanging honey harvesting workshop. If they care about you, pretty soon they'll be asking how they can better support your Southern California backyard beekeeping.

    "But won't your bees here miss you? Yes, they'll miss you very much! How can I help?"

    As beekeepers, we would all like more technical detail about these bees, extraction techniques, and so on. Squeezing this kind of honey hunting depth and a sympathetic portrayal of the village and its culture into 36 minutes is just not going to happen. There will be atmospheric stuff on screen which will prompt you to look at the time remaining and wish for less ambience and more bees! But relax and enjoy what you get. Think about dangling from ropes in a precipitous Nepalese river valley, slowly spinning around, in rain and hail, in a cloud of bees which can sting right through an American bee suit. ("I've got four stings in my groin," one filmmaker tells us, in the shorter film about making this one; see below.) Then maybe your perspective will be more generous.

    The soundtrack was interestingly eclectic.

    Don't miss the text below the film on the Vimeo page. (Pretty obvious using a desktop or laptop; look for the "Description" tab in a smartphone browser.) This has links to an associated 2017 National Geographic article (behind a pay wall, but available to subscribers); and a nine and a half minute North Face video about making The Last Honey Hunter, which I enjoyed.

    Last modified: 13 May 2020 2:39 AM | Jacob Dickinson (Administrator)

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